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Battlestar Atlantis - The Glen Larson / Todd Moyer partnershipCreated by John Larocque on May 13, 2004
Last revised: January 31, 2005
This document is ©2005, John Larocque. All rights reserved.
The Glen Larson / Todd Moyer Galactica project was one of several failed attempts to bring back Galactica in the past ten years. In 1994 at the 15 Yahren Reunion in Los Angeles, Glen Larson announced that "the Fox television network would like to bring Galactica back... There is a good chance we will be doing... something like a four-hour movie that will re-examine the whole saga of Galactica and its past, present, future." The project ultimately fizzled, with some blaming the downfall due to the low turnout.
Over the next few years there little news on the Galactica revival front. But in 1999, two stories dominated the landscape -- the completion of Richard Hatch's "Second Coming" trailer, and Larson/Moyer. In a published interview in Sci-Fi Entertainment in January, Glen Larson stated that "the rights for Galactica as a movie just reverted to my company. We've talked about it as a series, but it is still in the talk stage... We're talking to several major studios about it. There's nothing tangible at this moment but I wouldn't preclude it coming back, first as a big movie, and then out of that could be born a new TV show."
On March 10, Variety published an announcement of a new Galactica movie, to be produced by Todd Moyer (producer of Wing Commander) and Glen Larson, with Mike Finch handling the screeenplay. The independent feature was slated to be shot in Luxembourg and budgeted for $40 million. Said Moyer: "I'm very excited to be working with Glen Larson... Battlestar Galactica has an illustrious history, a huge fan base and enormous potential to be a successful motion picture." Visual F/X on the movie were to be done by Moyer's No Prisoners 3DFX, including visual effects supervisor Chris Brown, Erik Strauss, and other Wing Commander veterans. Twelve of the 19 personnel were formerly associated with the defunct Boss Film Corporation of Richard Edlund.
According to Variety, the plot of the movie starts where the original series off, aboard the Pegasus. Commander Cain's mission is to find the lost Battlestar Galactica, and the tribe of humans he hinks may have reached earth during pre-historic times aboard the Atlantis. A Galactica revival without the Galactica? Todd Moyer expanded on the synposis in an interview in March at Aint It Cool News. "Some people seem to be thinking that the plot synopsis suggests the movie will only about Cain looking for Galactica. That is not the case at all. The Galactica will be in this movie, and will be an important component in the film." Moyer commented on how space battles were going to be done in three dimensions, something he said was not done in Star Wars or the original Battlestar movie.
Larson clarified his legal situation in a response to Richard Hatch's March newsletter. "Glen Larson has 'separation of rights' under the Writer's Guild agreement. In simple terms, this means that Universal Studios owns the television rights to Battlestar, and Glen Larson is the sole and exclusive owner of any and all feature film rights to the Battlestar franchise. Glen Larson and Todd Moyer have formed a joint venture to exploit these rights." In his June newsletter, Hatch wrote that Moyer had actually met with Richard Hatch in December 1998 to discuss a Galactica revival, but never returned any phone calls after the initial meeting. That was the last Hatch heard of Moyer until the Variety annoucement, which he described as a "paid advertisement." Hatch had since went ahead to finance his own Galactica trailer which he had shown to fans on the convention circuit.
Moyer made a followup interview at IGN SciFi in August describing his pursuit of Galactica and getting to the bottom of the rights issue, which led him to original producer Glen Larson. The budget had grown to be $45 to $50 million, with about $15 to $17 million dedicated to F/X alone and a new shooting location in Babelsberg, Germany. He again reiterated a desire to do 3-D space battles and promised the film would have 500 shots. As a result of this interview, the project came to be known as the IMAX or Walking Vipers project, because the film was intended to be shown in the IMAX format, and featured Vipers which can go into "walker mode" such as the computer game MechWarrior.
In an interview in December on the SciFi Wire, Larson said that "the motion picture rights reverted to me, and [Universal's] not interested in going back to television at this point." These rights reverted to him when Universal turned down an earlier Galactica film pitch. In Starlog that month, he said he had a script for a two-hour movie and may re-examine IMAX because their films tend to run no longer than 50 minutes. Lloyd Bridges was intended to have a guest role as Commander Cain, and would be integral to any Galactica storyline. "We've played with the Pegasus as an element for this movie. It would give us a device to update audiences on what happened and it could be done in a novel, visually exciting way. But, at this point, I don't know if we would take the time to do something like that. I do know that it would NOT be our intention to stay with the Pegasus for the rest of the picture."
Building a dream - The Richard Hatch trailer
Richard Hatch's campaign to revive Battlestar Galactica goes at least as far back as the early 1990s. Richard was one of the key participants at the 15 Yahren Reunion in Los Angeles in October 1993, where he actively campaigned for a continuation among both the fans and his fellow cast members. In April 1994, Richard told television audiences on E! that he had written a trilogy of scripts.
In his October 1996 newsletter Hatch revealed that he had met with the Syndication Department of Universal Studios regarding Battlestar Galactica series, and that they were favorable to the idea of reviving it. He was also in the beginning stages of writing a Battlestar novel, and in Februrary finalized a deal with Byron Preiss books to publish a trilogy of hardcovers. The same month, in DeeJay Driscoll's newsletter for the upcoming 20 Yahren Reunion, she wrote that Richard was writing a Galactica script "utilizing the original cast members, with a possible release through Sci-Fi Channel. He's gathering letters of intent from the fellow original cast members and negotiating with Sci-Fi Channel. He said that he knew Glen Larson was currently working on a new BG 'pilot' without the original cast, through MCA/Universal."
By 1998, Richard had decided to try something new, a Battlestar Galactica trailer. He developed the script with Sophie Laporte early in the year (based on ideas presented in his novels) and had several meetings with Barry Diller at Universal. In the online chat at the 20 Yahren Reunion he revealed: "I have been pitching Battlestar to Universal and Barry Diller's company for the past three months and am putting together a short presentation as part of out pitch to clarify our concept of building a bridge between the old show and the new one. It follows the same line as the books which update the original series with the original characters 20 years in the future."
Many of the live action sequences in the trailer were shot during the convention, including the last filmed appearance of John Colicos, who died in March 2000. Other original cast members included Terry Carter as President of the Council, Jack Stauffer, and George Murdock, with Hatch reprising the role of Apollo, this time as Commander of the fleet. The roles for Athena and Boxey/Troy had been recast. Produced by Johnnie J. Young, Richard co-directed the trailer with Jay Woelfel. As he told Entertainment Weekly in July, "I've never [directed and produced a movie] before. It scares me. But I got tired of waiting for someone else to do it." Many other people donated their time and expertise to make this effort possible.
Special effects were supervised by cinematographer Dean Kundey (Jurassic Park, Apollo 13) and Brick Price of Wonderworks (Deep Impact), and several personnel from Foundation Imaging, which had also donated a Viper launch tube sequence. Many of the F/X personnel were later hired by the Eick/Moore production in 2003 for the Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, including Lee Stringer, Gabriel Koerner (of Trekkies fame), Don Bergren and Ken Thomson, Jr. Principal photography ended in December, with the intent to have it edited by February and presented to Universal by the end of May, although by April not all the F/X had been completed. It was slated to have its first appearance on the July 4 weekend at Atlanta's DragonCon.
The Glen Larson / Todd Moyer annoucement of March in Variety came as an unpleasant surprise to Richard's team. It was not clear that Larson's project would involve any of the original cast, although an official statement from Todd Moyer's No Prisoners in March stated that the rights to a Galactica film resided with Larson and that the door was open to Richard's involvement in the feature film if it was "appropriate to, or helpful to the project." In his official response in June, Richard Hatch said that he met with Moyer the previous December but that was the last he heard from him until the Variety annoucement, which he described as a "paid advertisement." Hatch also said that he was told that Universal was the copyright holder and that Larson had sold his interest to them years ago.
A 2 1/2 minute rough cut of the trailer previewed at DragonCon, with Jon Carroll commenting that "while some of the shots looked a little rough, it was still quite impressive considering the resources it was done with." The final 4 1/2 minute edit was presented by Richard and his team at San Diego Comic Con on August 13, and received a standing ovation by convention goers. He showed the trailer again at GoMainLine convention in Philadelphia on August 28 and answered questions from the crowd. Richard told the crowd he had mortgaged his house to finance the trailer, which cost roughly $20,000 and consisted largely of volunteer work from the people associated with the project. Otherwise it would have cost several hundred thousand dollars. He said he had raised $40 to $60 million from investors interested in a Richard Hatch Galactica production. By November in a radio interview, Hatch had raised that number to $80 million.
"They should get together and work it out."
In an interview in SFX in September, Benedict commented on the rival Larson and Hatch efforts. "The rights stuff is very complex. But you know what? I think they should get together, they should work it out. It's just silly." In the same interview he said that he'd love to play Starbuck "older, still gambling, still womanising, but slightly slower." By 2001 this nearly became reality, when Tom DeSanto signed him onto his Battlestar pilot.
In July 2000, French conglomerate Vivendi had acquired Universal from the Seagram's group. That same month, Michael Abbott, an assistant to Todd Moyer, responded to questions via email to a fan regarding the legal situation of the project. Michael indicated that there never was an arbitration and that Universal agreed to acknowledge two weeks prior to the arbitration date that Larson still retained the motion picture rights. "As we at No Prisoners, as well as Glen Larson Entertainment always knew that Glen owned the motion picture rights and never stated otherwise, making an official announcement is not a priority to us... Our next announcement regarding the project will be specifically related to it's production status."
In August, news of Larson's "Battlestar Atlantis" trailer surfaced, as reported by Dark Horizons. "Stu Phillips original score is kind of done-up David Arnold style and then it cuts to text of the original logo with the Cylon red-eye continuously crossing the logo. Then it says 'Launching Christmas of 2000.'" According to Jon Caroll, who had seen it, "it's about 30 seconds long, all CG, with some shots of Egyptian-looking architecture, a Battlestar rising over it, some Vipers fly past... and then a close shot of a CG Cylon with the tracking red eye... Moyer's group made it over a year ago, and most of the people that animated it at Moyer's facility are long since gone."
Original series fans still hope that Glen Larson will be able to one day partner with Tom DeSanto to continue the original storyline and make use the original cast including Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict.
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